The final stage of the Auditorium Shores park renovation, the new leash-free area, is nearly completed and should open in the coming weeks. In the meantime, several smaller improvements have been implemented along the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. For example, a wooden split-rail fence now separates the path from the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake.
The recent slab pour on West Second Street reminded me that it’s time for another construction update. Four buildings are slated for the site of the former Green Water Treatment Plant. A 38-story mixed-use office/apartment building (facing Cesar Chavez) is under way, and now the slab has been poured for the next one, a slightly shorter office building. Second Street is being extended with a new bridge over Shoal Creek.
Our city’s newest and largest hotel, the JW Marriott Austin, opened on Friday. This massive hotel takes up an entire city block between Second and Third Streets, except for a few small historic buildings that remain huddled together in one corner. With over 1000 rooms, this is the largest JW Marriott in the United States and the second largest in the world.
We are surrounded by major construction projects in downtown Austin. Cranes, cement trucks, and heavy equipment are everywhere. Many surface parking lots have now become gaping holes surrounded by temporary fencing as the site prep work takes place. The towers that are further along seem to grow a new floor every week. There’s so much construction here that downtown neighborhood associations have petitioned the new city council to “limit” concrete pouring to 6 AM to 7 PM.
Renovation of the Auditorium Shores trailhead was completed last week. This phase was originally planned to be finished last July, but the opening was delayed due to “closeout” issues. I guess everything was satisfactorily resolved since the construction fences and remaining debris were removed last week.
For 18 long months, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar has been closed. Their previous building was part of an old decrepit shopping center which was razed and is being rebuilt as a mixed-used project called Lamar Union. Most of the site is still under construction. Only the movie theater, The HighBall nightclub, and the adjacent parking garage are finished.
Lots of construction in downtown Austin means that I have been taking lots of photographs of cranes. These things are everywhere. It’s interesting to watch them in action, lifting up loads of girders and supplies as a building grows taller and taller. Watching a tower crane swing around in circles during one of our violent summer thunderstorms is downright scary, though. I’m guessing the cranes aren’t tied down so that they can align themselves with shifting wind currents.